Patient loses bid to hold Pittsburgh hospital liable for illness

The situation came about because a temporary worker, employed by a Pittsburgh hospital in 2008, was discovered stealing narcotics-filled syringes. He was banned from working at any of the hospital’s facilities, but neither the hospital nor the employment agency took any steps to ensure that the man didn’t work in any other medical settings.

Ultimately, the man went on to work at seven other facilities around the country, including one in Kansas. He allegedly attempted to cover up his theft of medicine by replacing the syringes in the facility’s supply — after having used the needles on himself. Further complicating the situation was the fact that the man had hepatitis C.

After the situation came to light, a man in Kansas who had contracted hepatitis C realized that it was likely from the employee’s tainted syringes. In an attempt to recover his medical expenses, the man filed a lawsuit — not against the Kansas facility that treated him, but against the Pittsburgh facility and the employment agency.

The man argued that the Pittsburgh companies had a duty to keep the man from getting further jobs in the industry. However, his claim was denied. A judge ruled that while the hospital and the employment agency failed to prevent the harm — but that they also were not responsible for creating the risk.

The man who filed suit may have other options of recourse. Anyone who is the victim of medical errors or negligence can work with a personal injury attorney to evaluate their case.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Case dismissed against UPMC stemming from radiologist with hepatitis,” Rich Lord, July 18, 2013